There's no shortage of jaw-dropping videos capturing insane feats of athleticism, daredevil stunts and crazy impressive tricks. But there's a fair chance the average dude or dudette (someone like you or me), with some practice and an ample set of cajones, could make a solid effort to duplicate the original.
Precisely choreographed guys sinking baskets while leaping into a pool? It may take hours and hours, but you could probably make a...mediocre reproduction.
Grind the railing along the steps outside of the public library? The outcome could be quite the gruesome skate injury, but you'd ultimately walk away from it—and probably get hundreds of thousands of views.
However, there are plenty of moments documented for the world to see that feature people doing things that are best left to the 'professionals'.
I'm talking about stunts, feats and outright reckless behavior that incorporate the kind of elements that end up in obituaries—altitude, speed, forces of nature and even...sewage. Granted, they may be impressive obituaries, they'd still obituaries.
These are the sports videos that you would die trying to recreate.
I didn’t even know speed flying was an actual thing until I watched this video and then Googled it to see if it was something these nutbags (Neil Amonson, Marshall Miller and Jesse Hall) cooked up after smoking pot one night while hanging out in Colorado.
Apparently it is a thing—a thing that combines paragliding and skiing. It brings the scary heights of cliff jumping together with the omnipresent avalanche threat and the potential dangers of base jumping. These guys make it look easy, but one strong gust of wind could be deadly.
You would: Find a way to die. And there are an awful lot of ways that can happen while speed flying in Alaska. Your parachute could get tangled on a rock, sending you careening into the open jaws of a hungry Kodiak bear!
This rider speeding through the streets of Macau, China, on a motorcycle hugs the twists and turns of the road so closely that he probably goes through those heavy-duty elbow pads on a fairly regular basis.
You would: Probably wouldn't make it around the first bend in the road at that speed. That's assuming you even make it that far.
In September 2013 notoriously notorious golfer John Daley made headlines (semi-golf related, for once) when he video resurfaced of him hitting a drive off a tee that a very trusting man (too trusting) was holding in his teeth.
You would: Definitely survive this one, but the poor bastard who was stupid enough to volunteer as your human golf tee might not. The difference between a concussion, serious brain damage and death all hinge on the power of your swing.
The shopping mall obstacle course in this video isn’t all that difficult…except for the series of moving escalators the rider has to traverse. Not just steps—moving steps.
You would: Probably go head-over-handlebars down the very first escalator. If you actually made it down that one, then you’d definitely wipe out on the second.
In March 2013 big wave surfer Axi Muniain caught the biggest wave ever surfed at Praia do Norte, near the fishing village of Nazaré, Portugal. The competition had been put off for more than three months due to extreme conditions.
The world famous surf spot was in the news again recently, when British surfer Andrew Cotton rode a wave that was estimated to be 98-feet tall. That broke the world-record of 78-feet, which Cotton set three months prior. He called the wave “intimidating.”
You would: Drown. Yeah…you’d definitely drown.
Umbrella skydiving sounds like something that was “invented” by a not particularly imaginative little kid. In fact, every now and again a child is seriously injured jumping from a window or roof, assuming an umbrella will break his or her fall. A very bad assumption.
I like to imagine Erik Roner is the survivor of such an incident and grew up to perfect his childhood hobby. That’s really the only way to explain why he felt the need to combine hot air ballooning and skydiving. That being said, the end result is something crazy.
You would: Screw it up somehow—which seems easy because it looks like there’s an awful lot of steps involved in a very short amount of time—and nobody there to witness it would ever be able to watch Mary Poppins the same way again.
Parkour isn’t really what’s hot and happening now, but there’s no denying it’s a sporting/athletic activity that is even more difficult than it is stupid looking. No small achievement.
In this video some dummy dressed as Santa runs through a snowy neighborhood climbing various things—including houses—and then swiftly launching himself off them.
You would: Ruin Christmas for a lot of people after stumbling off an icy roof headfirst and breaking your neck. Santa being hauled away in an ambulance is an image a kids would never forget.
Everyone who had a brief interest in learning to skateboard (before trying it once and getting pretty seriously injured) knows that it’s not as easy as Andy Mac it looks. It’s hard to travel a few feet by land on a board, so flying by air is almost unfathomable.
You would: Immediately separate from the skateboard the moment you hit the air and crash awkwardly down in between the structures, ricocheting off the wall before landing on your head, cracking your skull.
GoPro has documented a couple of epic motocross journeys. “Highest Road In The World” is worth a watch, but “Himalayan 4,500km Adventure” (see video) struck me as the less-survivable journey.
Don’t get me wrong, you probably wouldn’t survive more than a couple of days on either, but the deadly landscape of the Himalayas would eat your ass alive.
You would: Drive off one of those cliffs, and your body would never be recovered.
As someone who has been skydiving on a few occasions, I can personally attest to how stunning it is to willingly throw yourself out of an airplane. And that’s with a trained professional strapped to your back and a height that allows a slight margin for error in deploying backup equipment.
It's stunning in that it’s very easy to imagine someone having a panic attack and completely freezing up—good thing parachutes deploy automatically. Except when you’re base jumping, which is like the meth addict cousin of skydiving. They’ve got some things in common, but one is far more dangerous and unpredictable.
You would: Hit the water (or the ground, depending on wind conditions) before regaining your mental faculties enough to reach for the ripcord. Or you’d pull it too soon and your shoot would get tangled on the bridge, resulting in the same unfortunate outcome as not pulling it at all.
Extreme rollerblader Richie Eisler manages to make both rollerblading and Canada look dangerous and cool in this video. Impressive, considering I haven’t seen someone rollerblading since the last time I watched Big Daddy on USA.
You would: Maybe not actually die, but that’s only because you’d be severely hobbled after attempting the very first trick and wouldn’t have the opportunity to kill yourself. Unless you fell off that ramp into the road and got run over.
Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong “upstairs” with people who feel the need to set world records, particularly when they’re stunningly dangerous world records. Skier Jamie Pierre is one such person.
In January 2013 Teton Gravity Research published a video to YouTube of Pierre breaking the world ski jump record by willingly plummeting off a 255 cliff at Grand Targhee, Wyo.
You would: Die before the halfway point of the very long trek up the very tall mountain, unless you were smart enough to scrap the whole thing sooner and head back to the resort for some cocktails.
You know that saying, “easy as riding a bike?” Well, in this case, riding a bike through the surprisingly treacherous streets and pedestrian walkways of Valparaiso, Chile, isn’t as easy as riding a bike.
In this video extreme cyclists Aaron Chase, Brian Lopes and Chris Van Dine speed down hills, launch themselves off walls and fly down some of the steepest city steps in the world.
You would: Maybe be able to hang for awhile if you’re a strong cyclist and managed to find a workaround for the steps. Unfortunately the packs of wild stray dogs would evenutally do you in.
I actually used to assume that barefoot waterskiing would be a lot easier than waterskiing with skis. Then I tried it and learned that it’s just as difficult, if not more so.
Although, barefoot waterskiing enthusiast Michael Temby makes it look so simple and his stunts so effortless that I almost want to believe it again. Almost.
You would: Choke yourself to death at exactly the 0:50 mark of this video.
Apparently the Red Bull Rampage is a mountain biking event in which people who make bad decisions ride their bikes off/down very treacherous rocky cliffs and hills in Utah.
You would: Not have any problem riding the bike off the cliff—just like the pros!—but the landing would be a different story. You definitely wouldn’t stick it, and you probably wouldn’t survive.
Click here to see it through a helmet cam.
Sewer surfing isn’t an official sport, but rather a grody subset of the original—like dirty mattress surfing. It's something that Red Bull apparently sponsors someone named “Poopies” to do to increase their “stoke factor.”
You would: Not make it three feet over that ledge before awkwardly stumbling off your board and tumbling head-over-feet to the bottom of that hill. You might survive, but would probably wish you hadn’t.
If you thought sewer surfing was extreme, it doesn’t even hold an extreme candle to sewage surfing. For experienced sewage surfers, drowning is the least of their worries.
Brazilian freesurfer Nelson Pinto doesn’t just brave the rapids in this video, he also braves the threat of hepatitis, E. coli, salmonella, HPV, roundworm and many other viruses and parasites.
You would: Drown in sewer water without even managing to stand up on your surfboard. A most undignified death, indeed.
As if wingsuit flying wasn’t dangerous enough, in December 2013 Brian Drake proved he is part man, part flying squirrel when he (probably) flew closer to the ground than any other wingsuit pilot ever has.
The death-defying event was captured by Ellen Brennan and Ludovic Woerth, also wingsuit pilots, atop the Couloir de l’Ensa in Chamonix, France. I imagine camera duty was a "shotgun!" situation—Drake forgot to call it.
You would: Definitely splat to the ground in dramatic fashion (is there any other way to splat to the ground?) if you were crazy enough to even consider doing something like this, which I know you’re not.
Kayaking is usually a pretty laid-back activity that doesn’t require much athletic ability, but the more “extreme” among us know how to take it up a notch. In this video, Ken Marr speeds down a drainage ditch in British Columbia at 34 miles per hour.
You would: Probably drop your kayak into the ditch while trying to hop the fence, only to realize your pant leg got caught on the way over, which halts all forward momentum and leaves you hanging upside down as you watch your kayak float away.
Because racking up a body count is never good for business, don’t expect to see avalanche cliff jumping added to the Winter Olympics anytime soon.
In this video skiers Matthias Giraud and Stefan Laude go cliff diving in the French Alps and somehow manage to outrun a horrifyingly massive avalanche.
You would: End up being recovered by search and rescue dogs seven to 10 days after succumbing to hypothermia in your snowy coffin. And that’s probably the best case scenario.